Focusing on mental health to improve learner outcomes and retention

In recent years, there’s been continued focus and press attention about young peoples’ mental health, putting it at the forefront of the minds of educators. With Mental Health Awareness Day taking place only last month, the topic continues to gather momentum.

With reports of an increasing numbers of students dropping out of higher education due to mental health, it’s important that students are supported as early as possible in their educational journey to improve learner outcomes and retention, and to help students achieve their future goals.

Did you know that 2 in 3 people report having experienced a mental health problem in their lifetime?

So, what can you do to help your learners?

It’s important to be able to recognise the signs of someone who may be suffering from poor mental health. Not everyone has the same symptoms and it’s not always an easy thing to talk about, which makes being able to spot some of the potential signs even more important.

The Mental Health Foundation offers guidance on recognising the signs of some of the most common mental health problems, and how to respond.

There are also lots of resources available to support those in teaching positions to support their learners who may be experiencing a mental health problem, whether that’s providing resources, directing learners to specialist organisations or embedding resources into teaching.

We’ve listed some of these useful resources below.

  • NHS Every Mind Matters is in place to help people to manage and maintain mental health.
  • The Mental Health Foundation has reliable free downloadable publications about mental health and wellbeing, as well as podcasts that could be used with young people.
  • Charlie Waller Memorial Trust works in a variety of ways to support the mental wellbeing of young people. They have produced several free booklets on various issues connected with mental health.
  • Mind is a charity that supports adults with mental health difficulties. As well as being a campaigning organisation it has a range of useful information and publications, and a network of local Mind groups which have often worked in partnership with FE colleges.
  • MindEd is an eLearning application which provides free educational resources on children and young people’s mental health for adults. It also provides online training at different levels for professionals.
  • Young Minds is a charity which reflects the voice of young peoples’ mental health and wellbeing. It offers a range of publications produced by and for young people on various aspects of mental health and it runs training courses for teachers and support staff.
  • Action for Happiness has produced ‘10 Keys to Happier Living’ and also a highly endorsed ‘Key to Happier Living Toolkit’ for schools, which colleges might want to adapt for their own context. The app is like having a personal coach in your pocket that sends action ideas and inspirational messages every day.

By raising awareness and removing the stigma associated with mental health, as well as learning how to help those with mental health issues, we can move forward with a more supportive learning culture to ensure learners feel supported and are able to continue in education to reach their full potential.

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